Ed Rendell: The Oral History

Looking back on the former mayor as his political career in Pennsylvania nears its end.

THE MEANING OF ED

• Bob Brady: There’s nothing more he can possibly do in politics. He’s not running for public office — he told me he’s had his last campaign. Maybe he’ll take a cabinet position. I’d love to see that happen.

• Josh Shapiro:
I don’t think this region fully understands the impact of Ed Rendell, whether it’s ending a strike or providing an extra bit of funding to make something happen or improving our public schools or environment. I think he’s irreplaceable to this region; he’s a giant here.

• John Street:
He was, for many people, larger than life. He strolled in, and the room tended to light up. And he inspired confidence in a lot of important places.

• Thomas Paine Cronin
: He has a reputation that is overblown. He’s a corporate Democrat. He’s not like a Hubert Humphrey or Kennedy Democrat. He’s not that at all.

• Neil Stein:
What he did for Philadelphia was amazing. Without Ed, this city would never have gotten to where it is today.

• Zack Stalberg
: He’s about as close as you can get to the ideal local political leader.

• Paul Levy
: He set benchmarks and expectations beyond the reach of the city and constantly asked Philadelphia to stretch beyond itself. That was incredibly important, and I think that’s his biggest legacy here, in a city that undervalues itself. Ed, as a non–Philadelphian, appreciated the extraordinary resources of the city and raised expectations about what the city could be.

• Bob Brady:
Looks like he changed since his diet, but he still doesn’t use a fork.

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  • colleen

    Having read your story on the Governor, it reminded me of his 1977 DA run. In 1977 I was an 18 year old cashier at the A & P on Roosevelt Boulevard. One afternoon the candidate and his campaign manager came in the store. They were to attend a fundraiser at The Shack Restaurant next door. The campaign manager asked, “What aisle is the Scotch-tape?” I told him the aisle, only for him to reaapear at my register and ask, “What aisle are toilet brushes?” At this point, realizing it was Mr. Rendell, I asked why they needed Scotch-tape and toilet brushes. The campaign manager informed me they were trying to get the fuzzies off of Mr. Rendell’s suit. Classic. Only in Philly. I’m sure the Governor is dressing better nowadays. C. C. Young

  • colleen

    Having read your story on the Governor, it reminded me of his 1977 DA run. In 1977 I was an 18 year old cashier at the A & P on Roosevelt Boulevard. One afternoon the candidate and his campaign manager came in the store. They were to attend a fundraiser at The Shack Restaurant next door. The campaign manager asked, “What aisle is the Scotch-tape?” I told him the aisle, only for him to reaapear at my register and ask, “What aisle are toilet brushes?” At this point, realizing it was Mr. Rendell, I asked why they needed Scotch-tape and toilet brushes. The campaign manager informed me they were trying to get the fuzzies off of Mr. Rendell’s suit. Classic. Only in Philly. I’m sure the Governor is dressing better nowadays. C. C. Young

  • Mark

    Like Rendell, I am a native New Yorker and I know his mindset regarding Philly and Pennsylvania for that matter.When he went to Penn and saw Philly he couldn’t believe the corrupt bunch of rubes who run the place. Knowing his BS wouldn’t fly in savvy NY, he proceeded to grease his sleazy political career to the point where he was dubbed “Americas mayor” Please! I saw this character close up and he may be a god here but the guys a total fraud.

  • Eric

    Mr. Rendell eliminated the motorcycle helmet law when he began his career as Governor. On his way out he vetoed both the “residential sprinkler bill” AND the “cancer presumption” bill. This man has no soul…